Pakistani-Afghan peace commission to meet in Kabul


Islamabad/Kabul : Delegations from Pakistan and Afghanistan will meet in Kabul Thursday for two days of talks aimed at stemming cross-border movement by Taliban and Al Qaeda militants. The meeting of the joint Peace Jirga Commission comes three days after Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai decided at talks in Ankara to set up a working group to defuse tensions between the governments over the issue of the insurgents. Karzai Wednesday said that he had "productive" and "serious" discussions with his Pakistani counterpart in Ankara on the joint fight against terrorism and elimination of sanctuaries in both countries for the insurgents, waging war in Afghanistan. "I hope our decision is translated into action," Karzai told a press conference after returning back to Kabul. Involving government and tribal representatives from both countries, this will be the commission's second meeting since it was constituted last year in Washington, where US President George W. Bush brought the leaders together to discuss the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan. The Pakistani delegation will be led by Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao, who narrowly survived a suicide attack last week in Charsadda where at least 29 people were killed. His Afghan counterpart Pir Ahmed Geelani will also be present. "We will be discussing with Afghan leaders the joint efforts needed to restrict cross-border movement of terrorists," Sherpao had said earlier. The leaders of the two countries have repeatedly blamed each other for the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan in recent months. The government in Kabul says Pakistan is not acting against Taliban militants operating from its tribal belt, while Islamabad similarly charges the Afghan authorities with inertia. The Jirga Commission aims to set the parameters for convening a Grand Jirga, or council, of tribal elders from both sides of the border to discuss solutions to the conflict.

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